On 30 January, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova met with Members of the Commission for Foreign Affairs, European Affairs, Tourism and Immovable Heritage of the Flemish Parliament (Belgium), at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Belgium to UNESCO, H.E. Mr Yves Haesendonck, attended the event.
The Commission is responsible for several areas in the field of UNESCO’s competences and the meeting provided an opportunity to explore UNESCO’s strategies in tackling key global challenges. This working session also allowed the parliamentarians to discuss specific areas of cooperation supported by voluntary contributions from the Government of Flanders.
The Director-General expressed her appreciation for the support of Flanders to UNESCO’s action, notably in the fields of education and science, and stressed the importance of establishing this kind of longstanding partnership. Over the past 15 years, this support has amounted to some USD32M. She went on to highlight the Organization’s role as a prominent actor in defending the freedom of expression and the protection of journalists, and its strategy in the framework of post-2015 sustainable development agenda to be adopted by the United Nations Member States in New York at the end of this year.
The Chairman of the Commission, Senator Dirk Daems, congratulated the Director-General for her outstanding leadership, in the face of the extraordinary budgetary restrictions to which the Organization is confronted. He further highlighted the importance of Ocean management as one of the pillars of the Flemish foreign policy and in that regard, evoked the 10 year anniversary celebration of the IODE Office for IOC in Bruges later this year.